Kazakh church reaches out despite persecution

By March 12, 2009

Kazakhstan (MNN) — While there's still a question about whether or not a restrictive religion law will go into effect in Kazakhstan, the evangelical church continues its work despite threats of persecution.

"Judy" with The Mission Society says she's been working in a village for about 13 years now. "One of our churches we planted about 10 years ago has planted three churches themselves and also developed drug and alcohol rehabs centers."

She says this is an incredible milestone. "I've been working among the people who have come to the Lord in the last 13 years, and many of them had never even heard the name 'Jesus.' Many of them had lived without any hope and any future, and their lives were completely transformed."

While the religion law hasn't been implemented, known evangelical believers are being oppressed. "We have many church members that are unable to get a job in the particular village that I work in because of a local village mayor. He's already said if you're a member of the church you will not be hired for any work in this village."

Officially, the national government isn't against Christianity. However, Christians are being verbally attacked, their salaries are being cut, they're forced to do more work for less pay, and some are even fired without cause.

According to Judy, this isn't having a negative effect on strong new Christians. "I was actually invited to a celebration tea," says Judy, "and I was quite confused about that. They said, 'Don't you understand? We have been Christians for five years, and we are so excited that God counts us worthy to be able to suffer for Him.'"

So while the tensions increase, Judy says believers are pressing on. "They just have an excitement sometimes, and they just want to share with other people what they have found."

Judy is asking you to pray for "continuing growth in the leaders, that they would be able to remain strong under this persecution, and that in the midst of it that they would grow spiritually." Pray also that western missionaries will know when to let go and allow the national church to do the work.

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